Follow on Twitter

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Top 10 Places to Shop Near the Cruise Port in Key West

Once you disembark from the cruise ship in Key West, find most likely find yourself in Mallory Square on the lower end of Duval Street. Duval is the main thoroughfare through historic Old Town and is about a mile of bars, restaurants and shops. The first few blocks you might feel overwhelmed with stores selling cheap knickknacks, “Cuban” cigars and $5 t-shirts. Just keep walking, and you’ll quickly find a rich variety of funky shops and boutiques that capture the authentic flavor of the island... Read more.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fresh Catch: Chef Michael's in Islamorada

In September 2012, the sign for famed Chanticleer South Restaurant in Islamorada was suddenly hand-painted to read Gone Fishin’. The culinary rumor mill began to churn. The owner, chef Jean-Charles Berruet, had retired to enjoy his other passion, fishing. A series of mysterious and clever signs ensued like Aesop’s Table and Herondipity Café. In January, Chef Michael Ledwith hung his final shingle and opened Chef Michael’s, an American bistro with French flair. A long-time fixture on the Islamorada dining scene, last at Kaiyo Grill, Ledwith highlights the fresh local catch with eight different preparations on the menu. When I dined at the intimate 40-seat eatery, I popped back into the kitchen to say hello. “We usually know the source, the name of the captain and the way the fish was caught,” he said. 

The dining room was a soothing cream and chocolate palette highlighted with soft warm lighting. Business was brisk with a mix of well-heeled locals, winter residents and tourists. My knowledgeable waiter, Jared, guided me to the Ambassador preparation of mutton snapper. This generous serving of thick-cut fish was sautéed with blue crab, shitake mushrooms and capers and served with a Key lime-cream sauce. It melted in my mouth. A sip of Cartlidge & Browne Chardonnay, with its toasty oak tones, made for a strong finish. Dessert was a decadent six-layer spiced carrot cake with rich cream cheese frosting, topped with crunchy pecans, coconut and a drizzle of caramel. As I polished off my dessert, I spotted a head-turning braised lamb shank served at another table--next time. Chef Michael’s is located at mile marker 81.6 off U.S. Highway 1. Call 305-664-0640 for reservations.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Key West Insider's Travel Tips

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been to Key West, and every time I go, I discover something new. Over the years, I’ve noticed that it’s easy for visitors to focus solely on Duval Street and miss out on the island’s other charms. Check out these travel tips that will help you get the most out of your time in the Southernmost City.

Rent a bicycle and cruise the shady residential streets in Old Town. You’ll find a wealth of historic 19th-century conch houses and Victorian gems. Print a copy of the Pelican Path brochure filled with 51 historical points of interest.

Jump on the Conch Tour Train. If this is your first trip to Key West, the tour will give you an overview of the city’s rich history and highlight the areas of interest. You can make notes on the places you want to explore in-depth later.

Visit the Key West Cruise Ship Calendar. It tells you arrival and departure times, as well as the number of people on each ship. You’ll know what times to avoid Mallory Square and lower Duval, and if more than one ship is docking, that might be the day to schedule your on-the-water adventure. 

Have any questions? Send me a tweet @KeysClaudia or leave it in the comments below.